Ashland University women's basketball defeats Cedarville behind team effort

·3 min read
Ashland University's Macy Spielman (21) drives against Cedarville University's Allison Mader (24) during college women's basketball action Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 at Kates Gym. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM
Ashland University's Macy Spielman (21) drives against Cedarville University's Allison Mader (24) during college women's basketball action Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 at Kates Gym. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM

ASHLAND — Gutsy. Spirited. Determined.

Take your pick of adjectives.

Dressing only nine players and using mainly a seven-player rotation, the fifth-ranked Ashland University women’s basketball team methodically dismantled Cedarville 69-47 in Great Midwest Athletic Conference action Monday afternoon at Kates Gymnasium.

The Eagles (15-1, 10-0) led by eight points at the end of one quarter, 14 at halftime and 21 through three quarters, prompting Ashland coach Kari Pickens to take quick note of the team effort.

“There were a lot of great things about today’s game and a lot of things we have to continue to get better at,” said Pickens. “But I’m going to celebrate the fact that we beat a good team by 22 points, and we are still missing quite a few players.

“The players who were able to play came ready and they competed, and they put together 40 minutes of Ashland basketball.”

Eagles end first half with a flurry

It was all about the Ashland defense the first 10 minutes. The Eagles held the Yellow Jackets (11-6, 6-5) to just 2-of-17 shooting (11%) in the first quarter to take a 12-4 lead.

And with Ashland leading by only 10 points (30-20) late in the first half, Macy Spielman and Sophia Fortner gave Ashland a much-needed emotional lift.

Spielman hit a mid-range jumper with just seven seconds left on the clock, and Fortner stole the ensuing inbounds pass with three seconds remaining and dropped home a twisting buzzer-beater for a 34-20 halftime lead.

“Macy hit a wicked pull-up at the end, which was huge,” said Pickens. “And that was a really heads-up play by Soph to be able to grab it and get it off in time. It gave our team a ton of energy and momentum going into the half.

“It was huge. A huge series of plays.”

"Energy can change games"

Ashland University's Hayley Smith (33) shoots as Cedarville University's Emily Chapman (0) defends during college women's basketball action Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 at Kates Gym. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM
Ashland University's Hayley Smith (33) shoots as Cedarville University's Emily Chapman (0) defends during college women's basketball action Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 at Kates Gym. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM

With Spielman scoring 19 points and grabbing eight rebounds and Hayley Smith finishing with an impressive double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds), the Eagles slowed down Cedarville’s heavy guard attack.

“They both rebounded the ball exceptionally well, and that was very noticeable throughout the course of the game,” said Pickens. “Those were extra possessions that we got, and their presence in our zone really makes it effective. Their length, their size, especially against a team like Cedarville, who really struggled against these two.”

“That was something to definitely adjust to,” Smith added about Ashland’s size advantage. “This team was very aggressive and liked to trap and double team and even triple team. But when we see the double team, we can kick it out to our guards and let them do their thing.

“And guarding a smaller player can be a challenge, but it is something I think all of our posts are up to.”

Ashland University's Sophia Fortner (12) brings the ball down court against Cedarville University's Emily Chapman (0) during college women's basketball action Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 at Kates Gym. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM
Ashland University's Sophia Fortner (12) brings the ball down court against Cedarville University's Emily Chapman (0) during college women's basketball action Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 at Kates Gym. TOM E. PUSKAR/TIMES-GAZETTE.COM

Spielman’s back-to-back three-point plays in the third quarter were another huge momentum boost for Ashland.

“At halftime, coach P told us to play the second half like it’s the last 20 minutes of our career,” Spielman said. “And that put it into perspective.

“They were both pretty good passes. Erin’s (Daniels) pass was like a dime. Energy can change games, and I love that it is something that this team brings consistently.”

Annie Roshak added 14 points, seven rebounds and three steals, while Daniels had eight points, three assists and two rebounds.

This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: Behind team effort, Ashland U women's hoops beats Cedarville